“MX” for Borderland Beat
|Juan Manuel Alvarez Inzunza
Juan Manuel Alvarez-Inzunza, a former high-ranking Sinaloa Cartel money launderer, was extradited to San Diego, California, on Wednesday to face federal charges.
Nicknamed “El Rey Midas” (King Midas), he is alleged to have laundered millions of dollars for Mexican drug kingpins Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman and Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada.
Investigators estimated that El Rey Midas laundered between US$300 to US$400 million annually for the Sinaloa Cartel, which comes out to more than US$4 billion in a decade.
“Juan Manuel Alvarez-Inzunza is responsible for moving millions of dollars in illicit drug proceeds from the United States into Mexico,” said Cardell T. Morant, Special Agent in Charge for Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in San Diego.
“We stand dedicated and united with our law enforcement partners to continue dismantling these organizations; ensuring they can no longer hide from the authorities and that they will ultimately be brought to justice.”
El Rey Midas was born in 1981 in Culiacan, Sinaloa, Mexico. In March 2016, while on vacation with his family, he was arrested in the Mexican state of Oaxaca under a US extradition request.
Following his capture, Mexican officials confirmed that he was the operator of a large money laundering network that had domestic links to Tijuana, Culiacan, and Guadalajara, and international links to Colombia, Panama, and the US.
El Rey Midas was reportedly using shell companies and currency exchange houses in Jalisco and Sinaloa to conceal the origins of the illicit funds.
In August 2016, the US Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned him and two of his companies under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (Kingpin Act). The two Sinaloa-based companies were Nueva Atunera Triton, a tuna fishing company, and Operadora Eficaz Pegaso, a money services business.
Summary of charges
- Conspiracy to Launder Monetary Instruments (18 U.S.C. 1956(h))
- Conspiracy to Distribute Cocaine Intended for Importation (21 U.S.C. 959, 960, 963)
- Conspiracy to Import Cocaine and Methamphetamine (21 U.S.C. 952 and 960)
- Conspiracy to Distribute Cocaine and Methamphetamine (21 U.S.C. §841(a)(1) and 846)
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